Assessment of the Physicochemical and Microbiological Quality of Sachet Water Sold in Kumbotso LGA, Kano State, Nigeria
Mohammed M1*, Mamudu H Badau2, Amin O Igwegbe2, Florence J Maina3 and Fatima <
1Department of Food Science and Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, Bayero University Kano, Kano State, Nigeria
2 Departent of Food Science and Technology, Faculty of Engineering, University of Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria
3Department of Food Science and Technology, Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Adamawa State, Nigeria
Submission: April 01, 2020; Published: April 08, 2020
*Corresponding author: Mohammed M, Department of Food Science and Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, Bayero University, Nigeria
How to cite this article: Mohammed M, Mamudu H B, Amin O I, Florence J M, Fatima A. Assessment of the Physicochemical and Microbiological Quality
of Sachet Water Sold in Kumbotso LGA, Kano State, Nigeria. 2020; 24(2): 556256. DOI:10.19080/ARTOAJ.2020.24.556256
The rise in number of sachet water producers in Kano state calls for continuous and vigorous surveillance of the quality of water consumed by the populace to ensure compliance with the WHO and NAFDAC standards for such products. This study assessed the quality of sixteen brands of sachet water sold in Kumbotso LGA of Kano State, Nigeria. Physical assay, physico-chemical, heavy metal contents and microbiological quality assessments of the water samples were carried out. Not all the water samples examined contained any information on their manufacturing and/or expiry dates. The pH, temperature, conductivity and total dissolved solids (TDS) of all the sachet water brands conformed to the WHO standards. All the five heavy metals (arsenic, lead, iron, copper and zinc) analyzed are observed to be within the safety limits recommended by WHO, however Coliforms and some other pathogenic bacteria were detected in 31% of the sachet water brands; leading to the conclusion that 69% of the sachet water sold in Kumbotso LGA of Kano State is safe for human consumption.
Keywords: Kumbotso; Quality; Sachet water; Arsenic; Lead
Water is a liquid that is essential to life and makes up a large part of the body. Bateman and Sargeant, (2006) and  reported that the human body is made up of more than 65% of water. Man’s continued existence and human physiology depends on the availability of good quality drinking water [2,3]. A large number of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water. Of the more than six billion people on earth, more than one billion (one in six) lack access to safe drinking water , especially in developing countries such as Nigeria. The adequate supply of clean, fresh and safe drinking water is of great importance to all human beings. Water consumers are frequently unaware of the potential health risks associated with exposure to water borne contaminants, which have often led to diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, Legionnaire’s disease and parasitic diseases . Water quality can be determined using a variety of physico-chemical and microbiological processes. Good quality water should be odourless, colourless or transparent, tasteless, and free from faecal pollution . It appears colorless
in small quantities although in larger bodies there is an inherent blue hue .
Sachet water, popularly known as ‘pure water’ in Nigeria, is any commercially treated water, manufactured, packaged and distributed for sale in sealed food grade containers and is intended for human consumption . Sachet water was introduced into the Nigerian markets as a less expensive means of accessing good quality drinking water than bottled water [3,8]. However, several studies have shown that packaged water can be contaminated with bacteria at various stages of production [9-11] and during handling. It can also be contaminated with toxic substances depending on the original source of the water. The use of chemical disinfectants in water treatment or construction materials used in water supply system usually results in the formation of the chemical by-products, some of which are potentially hazardous [12,13]. Drinking water can serve as a vehicle for disease transmission, it has indeed, been implicated in many foodborne illnesses [14-16]. , reported pH values below the WHO maximum permissible limits of 6.5 in some sachet water samples,
this affects disinfection efficiency and may have an indirect effect
on human health. Due to the perceived monetary benefits or
gains in the production of sachet water, a large number of people
have engaged in the business of its production, this can lead to
introduction of substandard and fake or misbranded products into
the market . Poor manufacturing and handling practices such
as production of the water under unhygienic environment, sharp
practices, poor hygiene of factory employees and / or vendors
and non-adherence to WHO or NAFDAC regulations , can lead
to production of unsafe sachet water. These concerns led to the
need for continuous surveillance of the quality of water consumed
in Kano State. Thus, the intent of this study is to assess the
physico-chemical and microbiological quality of selected brands
of sachet water sold for human consumption in Kumbotso Local
Government Area of Kano State, Nigeria.
Sixteen (16) different brands of sachet water samples were
randomly purchased directly from both street hawkers and shops
in Kumbotso LGA of Kano State, Nigeria. Samples of similar brands
were pooled and analyzed, and in triplicates from different street
hawkers and shops in the study area, forty-eight (48) samples
were used for this study, they were labeled appropriately. To
avoid contamination, the edges of the sachets’ packets were cut
using a sterile scissors and emptied into a previously cleaned
and sterilized beakers as described by Airaodion et al.  and
kept at room temperature; samples were analyzed 2 to 4 hours
after collection, and the analyses included physical, chemical
(assessment for trace and heavy metals) and microbiological
quality, analyses were carried out in triplicate.
All the glassware used in this experiment were washed with
distilled water and sterilized in an autoclave at 121oC for 15
minutes. The sachet water packets were physically examined
information such as product name, manufacturers address, batch
number, NAFDAC registration number, manufacturing and expiry
dates were recorded for each sample as described by Oyekuet al.
 and Airaodion et al. .
The temperature of each brand of the water samples was
measured using a mercury bulb thermometer in oC, whereas the
pH of the samples was determined using a digital pH meter (Clida
Instruments PHS-25 Precision pH/mV meter). 100ml of each
brand of the water samples was poured into a 150ml beaker for
the determination. The pH meter was standardized with buffer
solutions of pH values between 4 and 9 as described by Igwegbe
et al. . Moreover, the pH of the samples was determined by
placing the electrode of the pH meter into the samples and
recording the readings. The electrode was rinsed several times
after each determination with distilled water. The determinations
were carried out in triplicates.
Determination of conductivity was carried out using a digital
conductivity meter Model 4520 JENWAY and, the total dissolved
solids for each water sample was determined mathematically as
a product of conductivity multiplied by a constant value of 0.6
[3,23], that is: TDS = conductivity × 0.6.
The heavy metals analyzed were arsenic (As), iron (Fe), copper
(Cu), zinc (Zn) and lead (Pb). Sample collection and handling was
as described by Igwegbe et al. ; and the metals were quantified
using a Microwave Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (Agilent
Technologies 4210 MP-AES, FDGS Innovative Gas Company). This
instrument uses a microwave excitation assembly to create a
concentrated axial magnetic field around a conventional torch,
which focuses the microwave energy where it is needed to produce
a toroidal plasma with a cooler central channel that is suitable
for stable introduction of liquid samples using a conventional
sample introduction system. The intensity of each emitted line is
directly proportional to the concentration of a particular metal
element [25,26]. An Agilent 4210 MP-AES has a nitrogen plasma
gas supplied via an Agilent 4107 Nitrogen Generator. Procedural
blanks, calibration solutions, sample solutions, and reference
sample solutions were analyzed in that order as described by
Vudagandla et al. .
For the bacteriological analysis, Nutrient Agar was used
to determine the total bacteria present in the water samples,
MacConkey Agar was used for the determination of Coliforms,
while Salmonella-Shigella Agar was used to enumerate Salmonella
and Shigella . All glassware - including Petri-dishes, test tubes,
pipettes, flasks and bottles used in the microbial analysis were
sterilized in a hot oven at 170°C for several hours, while the media
and distilled water were sterilized by autoclaving at 121°C for 15
min and at 15 psi . Each medium was prepared according to
the manufacturer’s instruction. Plating was carried out in triplicate
and pour plate method was used to make the viable counts. The
samples were incubated at 37°C for 24-48 hours at the end of
which the viable colonies in the three plates were counted and the
mean was calculated and expressed as colony forming units (cfu/
Results obtained from the physical assessment of the sachet
water samples are presented in Table 1. The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) requires that
sachet water packets must contain information such as product
name, manufacturers name and address, NAFDAC registration
number, batch number, manufacturing and expiration dates
[17,28,29]. All of the sixteen samples analyzed had the product’s
name and address of the manufacturer, and NAFDAC registration
number boldly written on the packets, while only two samples had
the batch number indicated on the packet. 100% of the samples
did not contain any information on their manufacturing and
expiration date. Lack of information on the manufacturing and
expiration dates makes it impossible to know the shelf life of such
products, thus posing a threat to health of the consumers when
they consume a product that may have passed its best before date.
In addition, without any information on the batch number, tracking
the source and realling of defective product will be impossible.
Also, noncompliance to NAFDAC guidelines and sharp
practices by some sachet water manufacturers should be a source
of great concern to all stakeholders in the food industry because it
can lead to easy spread of epidemics such as cholera and typhoid
fever. Similarly, the results of the physicochemical assessment of
the sachet water samples are shown in Table 2. The pH, turbidity,
total dissolved solids and conductivity of the water samples were
observed to within the ranges recommended by WHO. The highest
and lowest pH values recorded were 8.32 and 6.55, respectively;
while the highest value for turbidity was 3.51ntu. On the other
hand, the highest and lowest conductivity values recorded were
137.7 and 0.98 μs/cm, respectively; whereas the highest recorded
value of the total dissolved solids (TDS) was 82.62mg/l. All the
sixteen brands of the sachet water samples had temperatures
higher than the WHO standard, this could be due to the fact that
most of the brands of the sachet water sold in the study area are
transported and stored using open vehicles and under the sun
and/or shades, respectively.
The sources of heavy metals that could contaminate drinking
water supplies include industrial and domestic wastes as well
as the release of heavy metals into streams, lakes, rivers, and
groundwater because of acid rain . In general, a strong
relationship between contaminated drinking water with heavy
metals and the incidence of chronic diseases such as heart
diseases, stroke, cancer, renal failure, liver cirrhosis, hair loss, and
chronic anemia has been documented . Arsenic and lead were
not detected in any of the brands of sachet water samples as shown
on Table 3, while copper and zinc were detected, though below
the maximum concentration limits permissible by WHO. However,
high level of iron (Fe) was recorded in only one sampled brand. It
should be noted that continuous consumption of the water with
high level of iron may lead to detrimental effects in humans.
The presence of indicator organisms such as Coliforms in
treated drinking water is a measure of its sanitary quality [17,32].
The results of microbiological analysis carried out on the sixteen
brands of the sachet water samples presented in Table 4. From the
Table, it can be observed that Salmonella and Shigella were not
detected in any of the brands investigated however, 31% (five out
of the sixteen brands) contained varying numbers of total plate
counts including Coliforms. The implication of this result is that
the five samples found to contain total bacteria count are the
same ones that contained Coliforms, this is an indication that the
affected brands of the sachet water were not suitable for human
consumption. The WHO standards for these microorganisms were
set at 0.00cfu/100ml [17,33]
The physical assay carried out in this study informed us that
none of the manufacturers of the sixteen sachet water brands
provides all the required information recommended by WHO
and NAFDAC for sachet water. Physicochemical analysis such as
pH, conductivity, turbidity, total dissolved solids all conform to
the WHO standards, whereas the temperatures recorded were
all higher than that recommended by the WHO. Four of the five
heavy metals (arsenic, lead, copper and zinc) analyzed where
within the WHO permissible limits, whereas only one brand of the
sachet contained a high-level ofiron (Fe); while five brands varied
significantly from the WHO standards. It was concluded that those
brands that varied from the WHO Standard were not fit for human
consumption because of their contents of not only high total
plate counts but also their content of Coliforms. Although, 69%
of sachet water brand sold Kumbotso LGA of State of Kano State
were found to be safe, there is need for continued surveillance
and enforcement of safe drinking water standards to protect the
health of the consumers [34,35].
We extend our special thanks and gratitude to the
Managements of Department of Food Science and Technology,
Faculty of Agriculture, Bayero University of Kano, Kano State,
and the Department of Food Science and Technology, Faculty
of Engineering, University of Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria,
for providing the resources and enabling environments for the
conduct of this study
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